Forest Park runoffs: Brandon stresses communication

From staff reports

Frank Brandon is the challenger running for Forest Park City Council Ward 2 in the Dec. 6 runoff election.

Brandon and incumbent Debbie Youmans tied in the primary election in November. He is a lecturer on history at Clayton State University and said previously that he has been active in forming youth programs in the city.

Brandon agreed to answer some questions regarding his positions and he stressed the need for effective communication between the city and the people as well as economic growth.

This is the final installment in a series of question and answer articles from the mayoral and city council candidates in the election.

Q: What issues and goals for the city are most important to you?

The issues that I feel most deeply about are:

I will help the city government work for our citizens. The citizens need and deserve good decision making and effective communication. For example, to help improve communication, I will help make the city's web site more informative about city issues.

Our Main Street should be a place our citizens can stroll down, shop and enjoy. Fort Gillem needs to become a place that brings more money and jobs into Forest Park. I will work toward this.

The council represents the people. Hence, as Ward Two's council person, I will make decisions based on what is good for our citizens.

Q: Why are you more qualified than your opponent to address these issues?

I have lived in Forest Park for 31 years and I know our city and I know our people. Based upon my past experiences as an administrator, mediator, teacher and civic leader, I bring knowledge about government and service to people. I will make informed decisions and I know how to state my opinions without being a negative force. I have already helped start an After School Program for our children. I have written several grants for our city and county residents. I believe that a good government strives to make the people proud.

Q: What is your position on the city's decision to privatize its sanitation service?

I believe it was the right move. The service so far has been excellent. However, there are a few glitches that must be worked out such as dealing with the volume of leaves. For example, I recently wrote a grant to provide leaf bags for our community watch in order to deal with this issue.

Q: What would you like to see done to redevelop Army Garrison Fort Gillem?

There are many possibilities for Fort Gillem such as commercial development and park areas to name a few. It has the potential to be a wonderful jewel for the city of Forest Park that will increase the tax base and bring new jobs.

Q: What do you think about former Clayton County Commission Chairman Crandle Bray being the head of the Fort Gillem Redevelopment Authority? He is a very powerful person known for being adamant about having his way. Will that be good for the city or are you worried he will have too much sway over the redevelopment process?

Crandle Bray's experience and knowledge of the area will be invaluable. He is very intelligent and understands the value of the input of the citizens of Forest Park.

Q: Do you think the owners of the Crazy Horse Saloon and the proposed Pink Pony II strip clubs have too much influence over the city government?

I do not believe that they have any discernible influence on city government other than operating as a small business within the current laws.

Q: How important is the proposed commuter rail in bring the Mountain View area out of its current industrial mold? Is there some other way to change that area into commercial usage?

In every geographic area that the commuter rail runs it will change the landscape in a positive way by increasing travel through these areas. I think that this increased travel through not only the Mountain View area but Forest Park and other cities will bring new shops, restaurants and businesses.

Q: How would you expand the city's tax base?

The redevelopment of Fort Gillem is the obvious way to expand our city's tax base. Also, the revitalization of Main Street will bring new businesses which would increase the city's tax base.

Q: What would you do to revitalize Main Street?

I will hold meetings with the council members and business and property owners to develop plans, goals and guidelines for the revitalization of Main Street. New businesses will be attracted by showing them that we have customers for their businesses, plans for a beautiful environment for their businesses and other incentives.

Q: How would you encourage community participation in the city government?

One thing that could help encourage community participation in the city government is to improve the council set up for citizen input. I will work to allow citizens to better know city issues through improving the city web site, signs and council handouts. Also, citizens should be permitted to speak on issues at the council meetings before they are voted on rather than after.